COVID-19 closed schools and universities around the world. According to UNESCO’s education statistics, there were more than 300 million learners in December 2020, all of whom have been impacted by new school environments like starting to learn remotely, only partially attending in-person educational institutions, or even having to take academic breaks. All of these newly implemented changes have had a significant impact on school IT systems.
Digital transformation in the education sector
The education sector has always applied emerging technologies to innovate and improve the studying process, but the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred digital transformation in education even more. New technologies and tools are much more important for teachers and professors in virtual tutoring and e-learning settings. We’ve seen these digital transformation trends emerge in education this year:
Online platforms and learning software allow educational organizations to shift their education model from face-to-face interaction to remote learning, connecting teachers and students around the world and allowing them to continue studying during the COVID-19 crisis. With educational software and platforms, teachers can present lesson plans and assessments in interactive and engaging ways to help keep students’ attention in their new learning environment.
VR and AR help explain complicated topics and provide better visualization of complex subjects. This makes learning easier and more engaging for students, especially when they’re studying remotely without access to all their regular educational facilities.
AI and ML assist students and tutors with text and voice recognition tools. AI chatbots, for example, can communicate with and teach students, as well as analyze their progress. AI assessment systems and facial recognition solutions analyze students’ behavior during exams or tests to ensure that students are not cheating. AI data analytics solutions help to provide a more personalized studying approach for each student.
Mobile phones and applications are just as important for students as web and desktop technologies, particularly in areas where students rely on recently-set up hotspots for Internet access. It is essential for the education sector to provide mobile learning applications so that these students can access the information in ways that make sense for their life circumstances; they need to be able to access a wide array of studying materials, such as PDFs, videos, audio recordings, and text via whatever device they have access to.
Integrating video conferencing into school and university systems has allowed schooling to continue by giving students the opportunity to attend all their classes, lectures, and webinars remotely. Video conferencing may also be used for student onboarding and assessment.
Since teachers can no longer use their normal classroom management approaches to keep their students’ attention, digital transformation and IT have helped educators create interactive lessons with fun and engaging games on a variety of platforms. Educators can find or create games for every subject and grade level.
All educational systems rely on data gathering and processing. School systems may require big data and data analytics technology to provide a personalized teaching approach, generate deeper insights into student learning, and foster better teacher-student interaction.
Administrative and operational tasks continue with remote learning. Automation can ease some of this burden, allowing teachers and administrators to focus more on education than bureaucracy. School systems can implement solutions for recruitment, attendance management, parental notifications, and more.
Using the cloud gives institutions the space for flexibility, mobility, and speed.
Challenges with digital transformation in education
Although the trends outlined above bring exciting new opportunities, shifting to the new digital reality is not always a walk in the park — students and teachers alike must overcome a number of challenges to make the most of this new reality. Here are a few of the major issues facing digital transformation in education:
- Connection Speeds. Remote learning relies on students’ Internet connection. While it may be guaranteed in a school building, not all students have access to WiFi, and broadband.
- New Interfaces. Students and teachers are forced to adapt to new online systems that can have unfamiliar and complicated interfaces. They may be reluctant to get involved in new processes due to fear of failure and lack of experience. Each new IT system requires additional training, which can be overwhelming for everyone involved.
- New Systems. Developing the right strategic approach for implementing new IT systems is difficult and complicated. School systems may have to purchase new technology or make significant changes to existing systems.
- New Distractions. Students may misuse educational technology. They may be distracted by other applications on their devices.
- Legacy Systems. Existing systems may not be compatible with new tools and solutions. This may require extra time and money to resolve.
The challenges of the past year have shown that digital transformation can be a hard test for the education sector, and it’s not a test you can cram for. If you need help implementing new IT solutions into your existing education systems or building a system from scratch, consider consulting IT professionals to help you get on the right track.